ARCH lab recently collaborated on a paper titled “Adolescents’ Depression and Anxiety Symptoms During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Longitudinal Evidence From COMPASS” using longitudinal data from COMPASS study. The study analyzed changes in depression and anxiety symptoms among 5,368 Canadian adolescents in the context of a natural experiment, using data from the 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21 school years.
This paper examined changes in depression and anxiety symptoms between two cohorts, one pre-pandemic and the other early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Depression and anxiety symptoms rose during both early and ongoing pandemic phases in both cohorts.
- Similar elevations in symptoms were observed in both cohorts, indicating a general trend.
- Female and younger respondents experienced more significant increases in symptoms over time.
- The proportion of adolescents with significant depressive symptoms grew from 29.4% at baseline to 44.8% during the ongoing pandemic.
- Similarly, moderate-to-severe anxiety symptoms increased from 17.6% to 29.8% in the ongoing pandemic period.
The study indicates a consistent rise in internalizing symptoms since before the COVID-19 pandemic, with no clear link to the pandemic’s early stages. Continuous assessment of adolescents’ mental health is essential to understand evolving impacts over time.